Walmart launches a virtual dressing room

Handing over your semi-nudes to Walmart? What could possibly go wrong? 

What happened: The company has launched a Be Your Own Model tool, which uses a shopper’s full-body photo to simulate a dressing room experience with Walmart fashion. 

  • Over 270,000 items can be “tried on” using the software—imagine being able to switch between a shirt in different colours, sizes, and sleeve lengths in seconds.
  • The technology builds on Walmart’s Choose My Model experience, which lets you see clothes on one of 50 models with various skin tones, heights, and sizes. 

Why it matters: Online try-ons picked up in popularity during the pandemic, but privacy experts say there are risks involved with rolling out such tools without proper disclosures. 

For instance, testing a pair of jeans using a photo leaves a trail of personal and biometric data and valuable real-time insights into your wants and lifestyle as a consumer.

  • “Does the app collect information about your body or surroundings to better sell products to you?” Yang Feng, a professor at SDSU told The Washington Post.

When shoppers consent to the use of their data (without skimming the fine print), it leaves retailers open to use that information for targeted marketing or to share with other retailers. 

Zoom out: Retailers are increasingly asking customers to strip down and play dress-up via AR tools, but it’s still unclear if consumers are ready to entrust them with their pics.